NTP Study Strengthens Evidence Showing Fluoridated Water is a Safe Way to Prevent Tooth Decay, But Critics Ignore the Study They Once Welcomed

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A study led by researchers at the federal government’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) has found no link between elevated levels of fluoride and cognitive harms. Released in February, the NTP study examined rats that consumed food and water with varying exposures of fluoride during their prenatal development through their adulthood. At these exposures, the researchers reported that they “observed no exposure-related differences in motor, sensory, or learning and memory performance” for any of the nine different tests they conducted.

Although fluoride critics often assert that fluoridation is harmful to the thyroid, the NTP study revealed that thyroid hormone levels were not altered by exposure to levels as high as 10 or 20 parts per million (PPM) of fluoride.

Critics’ Noteworthy Silence

When the NTP study was first announced, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN)—the leading anti-fluoride group in the U.S. — welcomed the news with a headline declaring that the study’s findings “could end fluoridation.” FAN cited the NTP’s “cutting edge scientific tools” and wrote that the NTP’s decision to conduct a study “puts a lie to [proponents’] claims” about fluoridation.

The American Fluoridation Society (AFS) noted that FAN has been distinctly quiet since the NTP study results were publicly released.

“Critics of community water fluoridation were thrilled when the NTP said they would conduct a thorough study of this issue,” said AFS President Johnny Johnson. “However, they have been as quiet as a church mouse since the NTP’s findings were made public. Once again, they choose to ignore the studies that don’t fit into their fear-based mindset.”

The NTP research studied rats that consumed water with three different concentrations of fluoride (0, 10 and 20 PPM) and two different fluoride levels in food: 20.5 PPM (a standard diet) and 3.24 PPM (low-fluoride diet). The only side effect found by the NTP study was inflammation of the prostate gland, which was observed only at a fluoride exposure that was far above the level of human exposure by drinking fluoridating water.

In addition to the NTP study, research published in 2015 by the Journal of Public Health found no link at all between fluoridation and IQ scores. This 2015 study was conducted in New Zealand, where fluoridation programs are common. The New Zealand study examined a large sample of people and examined IQ scores collected over a 31-year period.

Few public health topics have been researched as thoroughly as CWF. In fact, the database maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine contains more than 56,000 studies or research papers on fluoride. And the Library’s records include more than 6,400 studies that focus specifically on fluoridation.

Two other recent reports reinforce the safety of fluoridated water. In a report issued this March, Public Health England reviewed the evidence surrounding fluoridation and reached this conclusion: “The findings of this report agree with the view that water fluoridation is an effective and safe public health measure to reduce the frequency and severity of dental decay, and narrow differences in dental health between more and less deprived children and young people.”

In April, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued a report stating that “there is currently no scientific basis for concerns about the safety of children and adults” due to fluoride exposure from foods and drinks.

For more information, visit americanfluoridationsociety.org.

The FDA’s New Fluoridation Website is Your Go-to Source for the Facts!

By Dr. Johnny Johnson, American Fluoridation Society President

Quick! Answer the following questions within 30 seconds:

1. The patient in your chair goes into cardiac arrest. What is the first phone call you make?
2. What is the concentration of your preferred local anesthetic?
3. Is your community water fluoridated?
4. What is the recommended level of fluoride for community water fluoridation (CWF)?

I bet that the first two questions took you a split second to answer. The third question may have been just as quick. The fourth? Maybe quick, maybe not.

How can you be 100 percent sure that you are correct in your answers? Well, the Florida Dental Association (FDA) would like to introduce you to our new and outstanding fluoridation website: www.floridafluoridation.org!

As dentists, we are expected to be the experts in water fluoridation — and we should be. The proper level of fluoride in drinking water is critical in knocking out at least 25 percent of cavities that adults and children will ever get. It also reduces the severity of those cavities.

The FDA’s fluoridation website is the best website that I have seen anywhere in the U.S. — or in the world for that matter! I know because I have worked with many of you in protecting, restarting and/or initiating CWF in your communities. And we have been an awesome force in ensuring that all of our residents — rich or poor, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, level of education or access to dental care — continue to receive this safe and effective public health benefit.

There are many great resources for information on CWF. However, when it comes to concise information that is user-friendly and state-based, the FDA’s website is primo!  The information is easy to find, concise and presented for both professionals and the public to use.

I challenge you to do these three things:

1. Immediately — right now! — find out what the fluoride level is in your community’s water.1,2,3,4
2. Pull up the FDA’s water fluoridation website.
3. Hang up a poster on CWF in your office — please!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. CWF is the best bang for the buck for everyone in our state to benefit from the cavity reductions without a single behavioral change.

If you have any questions, challenges or needs, the FDA and I are here to help you. No question is dumb; the only dumb question is the one not asked. We are here to serve you. Call on us. Thank you for fighting the GREAT fight.

Dr. Johnson is a pediatric dentist in Palm Harbor, Fla. and the president of the American Fluoridation Society. He can be reached at drjohnnyjohnson@gmail.com.

References:

1 My Water’s Fluoride (annual water quality report)
2 Dr. Johnny Johnson
3 Florida Department of Health
4 American Dental Association, American Fluoridation Society, Campaign for Dental Health